Unlike previous General Conferences (GC), where there was a direct downward spiral legislatively on LGBTQ inclusion, this Fort Worth’s Future With Hope was mixed.
* GC kept the original basic membership language that was
misinterpreted in JC #1032 (49%-51%), but strengthened open
transfers of membership and later by a 2/3rds vote replaced a
“list” to include with the words “ministry to all” in the UM
Constitution section on Inclusivity.
* GC maintained “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with
Christian teaching” (45%-55%) while it added “loving caregivers”
and “same-sex couples with children” to the definition of family.
* GC kept a funding ban on “promoting homosexuality” but stressed
that it could not be used to “reject or condemn lesbian and gay
members and friends” and further passed anti-homophobia,
anti-heterosexism pieces that mandated providing resources to
educate and reduce harm.
* Finally, GC gave us two peaks to celebrate: 1) the election of
moderates to the Judicial Council who hopefully can tell the
difference between “may” and “shall” in the eligibility section
for membership and 2) the refusal to discriminate against
transgender persons — lay or clergy.
What smoothed the ride out on this roller coaster was the consistent spirit presence of the One Family Tree witness from the Parent’s lunch, Young Adult drumming and rally, Reconciling Worship at First UMC, Good Friday “die in” and “Were You There?” floor witness, to the Easter hope wedding of Sue Laurie and Julie Bruno. We started with family and ended with family. We can’t create One Family Tree by human means alone, but God can with and through us. Remembering our long-haul mission, planning for 2012 in Florida has already begun.
–Rev. Troy Plummer, Reconciling Ministries Network
Trinity at General Conference
Paige Schilt, as a staff member of Soulforce, was an amazing presence throughout GC; she shared her own story and talked about the importance of her finding a spiritual home at Trinity. Brandon Wollerson drummed until his fingers were numb and worked as an activist with Mosaic, the Reconciling Student group. Bob Parsons, retired UM clergy who affiliates with Trinity, passed out fliers to delegates about how proud he is of his lesbian daughter, her partner, and their children.
On the weekend between committee meetings and the general assembly, Will & Esther Sloan-Kavanaugh, Sid Hall, and Mary Pratt participated in a Soulforce training and witness and the Reconciling worship service. On Wednesday and Thursday, as the unfortunate votes took place, Susan Sprague and Anita Privett participated in a witness on the floor of GC, singing hymns and mourning the exclusive legislation of the UMC. And, most powerfully of all, our whole congregation was there in spirit, praying for change in the hearts of the delegates and praying for courage and strength for the LGBT activists and their straight allies.